By DAVE LINK
OAK RIDGE – Lauren Davis couldn’t be happier with the start of her high school golf career Monday.
The rising freshman at Halls shot 1-over-par 73 in the opening round of the 5Star Preps Masters at Oak Ridge Country Club and is tied with Bearden senior Sydney Branson entering Tuesday’s second and final round.
Davis was finished with a one-stroke lead when play was stopped for more than 2 hours in early afternoon due to lightning in the area.
She was one of nine players who barely beat the long delay.
“It was really lucky,” Davis said of getting finished before the rest of the field.
Davis goes for the 5Star Preps Masters title Tuesday at Three Ridges Golf Course. It will be her 14th birthday.
How will she celebrate?
“Don’t have any plans, really,” she said.
Her father, Jamie, may have some plans.
“Hopefully we might be celebrating a good win for Halls,” he said. “That’s our goal.”
Davis and Branson have slim leads after one round with Farragut senior Gabrielle Starling and Kingston sophomore Brylee Crouse tied for third at 2 over. Bailey McGaha of Halls was fifth at 3 over.
Halls has the girls’ team lead at 4 over with Bearden second at 6 over.
Starting on the back nine, Davis made the turn at even-par 36.
After making par on No. 1, her 10th hole of the day, Davis made back-to-back birdies on the next two holes, rolling in birdie putts from about 6 feet.
“I played really well,” Davis said. “There were a few stumbles, but I picked it up and played well.”
Davis made double-bogey 6 on the No. 5 hole and went back to even par for the round. She had bogeys on No. 6 and 8 with a birdie in between on the par-5 No. 7.
Davis said she doesn’t have any big expectations for Tuesday. She’s just glad to be playing high school golf.
“It’s just fun to play,” she said. “It feels really great. It’s nice to start high school with a great round and getting momentum playing with friends.”
Halls sophomore Ethan Whitaker, the defending boys’ champion, couldn’t say the same after Monday’s round – even after beating the weather delay.
Whitaker, a rising sophomore, was 5-under through 15 holes, but made bogeys on the last three holes for a 2-under 70.
“I just got to 5 under and I told myself to try to get to 7 and got a little too aggressive,” Whitaker said. “But I’ll get it tomorrow. I’m not worried about it.”
Whitaker won last year’s tournament in a playoff against Lenoir City’s Jeremy Ellis, a 2021 graduate.
He wants to avoid any lapses in Tuesday’s round.
“I’ve just got to play smart, hit it in the right spots, not make any stupid bogeys,” Whitaker said. “Like all my last three bogeys were just terrible bogeys.”
Whitaker is seventh entering Tuesday’s final round at Three Ridges.
West senior Carson Kammann fired a 6-under 66 for the boys’ first-round lead. Kammann, an All-5Star Preps first-team selection last season, opened with a bogey Monday but got his round under par by the fourth hole. He birdied the par-5 18th to punctuate his day.
Kammann recently committed to East Tennessee State and has qualified for the 2021 U.S. Amateur, which will be held Aug. 9-15 at historic Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club.
Five players are tied for second at 3 under: CAK’s Kaleb Wilson and Jackson Hughey, Bearden’s Jaden Morrell, Campbell County’s Jack Leach, and Catholic’s Harrison Thompson.
Wilson was 5Star Preps’ 2020 Co-Player of the Year. Thompson contended at the 5SP Masters last year as a sophomore and was All-5SP last fall.
CAK leads the boys’ team standings at 2 over, while Halls is second at 5 over.
First Round at Oak Ridge CC
TEAM (Par 144)
Halls 148, Bearden 150, Kingston 151, Farragut 158, Maryville 159, CAK 162, Sevier County 168, Catholic 182, Oak Ridge 205.
Individual (Par 72)
73 – Lauren Davis (Halls)
73 – Sydney Branson (Bearden)
74 – Gabrielle Starling (Farragut)
74 – Brylee Crouse (Kingston)
75 – Bailey McGaha (Halls)
76 – Brooke Farmer (Gibbs)
76 – Rylee Tucker (Maryville)
77 – Maya Hira (Bearden)
77 – Kailey Lane (Kingston)
79 – Alexis Fishel (CAK)
To See the Full Girls Leaderboard, click HERE.
First Round at Oak Ridge CC
TEAM (Par 288)
CAK 290, Halls 293, Bearden 307, Farragut 309, Kingston 311, Campbell County 315, Maryville 329, Catholic 341, Sevier County 362.
Individual (Par 72)
66 – Carson Kammann (West)
69 – Kaleb Wilson (CAK)
69 – Jackson Hughey (CAK)
69 – Jaden Morrell (Bearden)
69 – Jack Leach (Campbell County)
69 – Harrison Thompson (Catholic)
70 – Ethan Whitaker (Halls)
72 – Blake Woody (Kingston)
73 – Nick Talley (Maryville)
73 – Bowen Brantly (Halls)
To See the Full Boys Leaderboard, click HERE.
⛳️ 5STAR PREPS MASTERS ⛳️
Presented by @BradRoseGolf
FINAL ROUND TEE TIMES
▶️ Tuesday at Three Ridges GC pic.twitter.com/0T0JrGXln9
— 5Star Preps (@5StarPreps) July 27, 2021